Interest in customer experience at pharmaceutical companies has shot up in the past few years. This came home to me more than a year ago at our 2012 Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, where every meeting I took was with one or more decision-makers at pharma companies.
But there’s another reason why I’m looking forward to Tony’s speech. In talking to him during the run-up to our event, I’ve gotten a good look at what he’s doing and why it matters to so many people. Because let’s face it: The prescription drugs we take go right to the most important experience in most of our lives — our health.
Why does customer experience matter to a life-sciences company like Lilly, and what is it doing to make it better? We recently put some of these questions to Tony, and you can read his answers below. I hope you enjoy them and that I get to see you in Los Angeles where we can all hear Tony in person.
Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?
A. Lilly’s focus on customer experience actually can be traced back to the company’s beginning in 1876 when Colonel Eli Lilly went against the trend of the time and focused on developing products of the highest quality to provide the best experience for his customers.
At the beginning of 2013, approximately 153 million US online adults had health insurance coverage. While it serves the majority of US adults, the health insurance industry is unique in that only a minority of health insurance customers choose their health insurance provider directly. Forrester estimates that just 14% of US online adults — 25 million US adults — actively chose their health insurance provider in 2013.
However, with the onset of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare," many new customers will enter the healthcare market. While we don't know exactly what portion of uninsured US adults will follow the mandate that all US residents must obtain health insurance, there is a large pool of potential new customers.
In fact, Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that 13% of US online adults (23 million adults) reported having no health insurance at the beginning of 2013. Of these uninsured adults, 47% don't have health insurance because they can no longer afford personal coverage; 25% left the employer that provided their coverage; and 15% never had health coverage.
With the employer mandate delays being the latest setback to U.S. president Obama's push for national healthcare, it's worth looking at how other countries are successfully tackling the same problem. The United Kingdom has had nationalized healthcare for years, and one of the things that makes this effort so successful is its approach to data collaboration — something Forrester calls Adaptive Intelligence.
While the UK hasn't successfully moved into fully electronic health records, it has in place today a health records sharing system that lets its over 27,000 member organizations string together patient care information across providers, hospitals, and ministries, creating a more full and accurate picture of each patient, which results in better care. At the heart of this exchange is a central data sharing system called Spine. It's through Spine that all the National Health Service (NHS) member organizations connect their data sets for integration and analysis. The data-sharing model Spine creates has been integral in the creation of summary care records across providers, an electronic prescription service, and highly detailed patient care quality analysis. As we discussed in the Forrester report "Introducing Adaptive Intelligence," no one company can alone create an accurate picture of its customers or its business without collaborating on the data and analysis with other organizations who have complementary views that flesh out the picture.
Who doesn’t know Walgreens? It’s an iconic American brand that’s been around for over 100 years.
But at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 26, Graham Atkinson showed us a Walgreens that’s totally different from the one we’ve come to know. Graham is the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Walgreens, and he’s leading the charge to transform the company from one that traditionally differentiated based on location, location, location to one that differentiates based on experience, experience, experience.
In this video excerpt from his speech, he describes three initiatives that are currently underway:
Delivering the well experience.
Transforming the community pharmacy
Taking the Walgreens brand to the world
As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Graham, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.
How many of you suffer from at least mild “cyberchondria"? Do you run to the computer to Google your latest ailments? Are you often convinced that the headache you have is the first sign of some terminal illness you’ve been reading about?
Well, Symcat takes a new approach to Internet-assisted self-diagnosis. It provides not only the symptoms but the probability of getting the disease, using CDC data to rank results by the likelihood of the different conditions. It then allows users to further filter results by typing in information such as their gender, the duration of their symptoms and medical history. No, that headache you’ve had all week is likely not spinal stenosis or even viral pharyngitis. But if you’ve had a fall or a blow to the head you might want to consider a concussion.
As Symcat puts it, they “use data to help you feel better.” Never underestimate the palliative effects of peace of mind.
I had the chance to ask Craig Monsen, MD, co-founder and CEO of Symcat, a few questions about how they got their start with the business and their innovation with open data.
What was the genesis of Symcat? Can you describe the "ah-ha" moment of determining the need for Symcat?
There is a staggering amount of customer experience work going on in the healthcare industry these days. From providers (the docs), to pharma companies and payers (health insurers), everyone is trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.
Last week I got a question via email from one of Forrester’s clients, who asked:
“How do you explain the success of companies that consistently provide a poor experience but perform well financially?”
I wish more people asked this question because it shows that they’re thinking about customer experience in the right context: as a path to profits. Here’s my answer:Creating a superior customer experience is the most important thing that companies need to do. But it will never be the only important thing they need to do.
My co-author and I describe the relationship between customer experience and other factors that lead to business success in Chapter 13 of our new book, Outside In:
“Is customer experience a silver bullet that will kill off all your company's problems and make your stock price soar? No. If there is such a bullet, we haven't seen it. The fact is, regardless of your customer experience, you can still get clobbered by a big, strategic threat like a new market entrant (Netflix if you're Blockbuster) or a substitute product (digital photography if you're Polaroid). That's especially true if the new market entrant or the provider of the substitute product offers an amazing customer experience (Amazon.com if you're Borders or Barnes & Noble).”
When you have a virtual monopoly, you can get away with providing a poor customer experience — right up until you can’t.
I attended a Xerox analyst event last week in Grenoble, France, and was very impressed with both the setting and what I heard. Xerox is much more than the verb it was once associated with, and office workers no longer set off to get something “xeroxed.” As the CEO said in a recent interview, the younger generation doesn’t know Xerox as a verb. I mentioned having read this to a fellow analyst at lunch the first day of the event, and she looked at me quizzically. She didn’t know what it meant to “xerox” something. Indeed, there is hope for Xerox to recast itself as much more than a copier. However, there remains work to be done.
Last week my son, Alex, had reconstructive surgery to repair his torn ACL (the ligament that holds the inside of a knee together).
He’s 11 years old.
I have to admit that this procedure worried me like hell for all sorts of irrational reasons. Sure, things could have gone wrong. But the surgeon who operated on my son literally invented this type of surgery, which is only used on children and pre-adolescents who are still growing. Plus we had the procedure donev at Boston Children’s Hospital, which topped the U.S. News & World Reporthonor roll of best children’s hospitals.
All that gave the left part of my brain comfort, even as the right part of my brain tried its hardest to give me high blood pressure. Fortunately, the operation was an unqualified success, and as I write this, we are three days into the recovery period, which is also going well.
Now normally I wouldn’t blog about something this personal. But throughout the process, Alex — who knows what I do for a living — kept telling me that he was having a great experience and that I should write about it.
Frankly, I was quite curious as to why Alex thought — and forgive me for being graphic — that getting his leg opened up and put back together with a bunch of new parts was “a great experience.” So I asked him.
Harley: You’ve said a number of times that you had a great experience at Boston Children’s Hospital. From your point of view, what made it a great experience?
Alex: Everyone was really nice to me. And they did a great job at keeping my pain level down.
The Supreme Court decision upholding virtually all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) shifted a balance for customer experience professionals in the healthcare industry. Now they — and the executives they report up to — know that it’s more risky to do nothing than to respond by taking action.
Keeping in mind that “the healthcare industry” is really three industries, here are some of the most important actions that healthcare organizations will need to take.
Health Insurance Providers (Payers)
As we point out in our upcoming book, Outside In, the health insurance industry has owned the cellar of our Customer Experience Index (CXi) since we began that study five years ago. The main reason for its dismal performance is that the CXi is a consumer study, and for health insurance providers, the customer has not been a consumer but a business — or more accurately, a person at a business, like a benefits manager.
The result was that payers didn’t need to focus much on the end users of their products — consumers — so most of them didn’t. But starting in 2014, a greater percentage of their business will come from consumers. That will drive health insurance providers to better understand consumers so they can attract and retain the healthiest ones, who are the most profitable. Payers will also want to get consumers to change their behavior as a way to keep costs down. For example, they’ll want them to opt for generic drugs and to take better care of themselves. But none of that will happen unless the health insurers build a trusting relationship by providing a far better experience than they have to date.